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Category — Featured Articles

Gamasutra Feature: The Trouble with Patents

Categories: Featured ArticlesPatents

In this interesting Gamasutra feature, The Trouble with Patents, David Sirlin, a Bay area video game developer, discusses some of the problems with video game industry patents and argues that:

  • patents are too easy to get
  • many are trivial and do not pass the non-obvious test;
  • the length of patent protection, especially in the context of the Internet and fast changing industries like the video game industry, is too long;
  • the cost of defending a patent infringement suit is too high with the result that marginal patents are frequently not tested;
  • to determine whether a prospective idea is obvious, and therefor patentable, it should be submitted for peer review as part of the patent prosecution process rather than the current system of testing for obviousness through the costly judicial process after a patent is granted; and
  • the length of patent protection should be different for different types of patents.


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Gamasutra Feature: 10 Most Important Video Game Patents

Categories: Featured ArticlesPatent CasesPatents

Love’m or hate’m, video game patents have played an important role in the evolution of the video game industry.

Ross Dannenberg and Steve Chang of Banner & Witcoff, Ltd have put together this terrific feature article: “The Ten Most Important Video Game Patents” for Gamasutra. In assessing the patents’ importance, they used four criteria:

  1. Relativity to Video Games
  2. Financial Value
  3. Technological Importance
  4. The IT-Factor

The winning patents honored/discussed in the piece are:

Check it out, its a good read.

Also, FYI, I have discovered Ross’ Patent Arcade blog where, among other things, he tracks Video Game Lawsuits. For your future reference I have added it to my “Video Game Law Blogs” roll down the right side of my blog (after “Topics”).

Source: Gamasutra

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Variety: Xbox 360 Video Marketplace Succeeding

Categories: Digital DistributionFeatured Articles

For  years I have called for video-download services to be provided directly to a TV-connected consumer electronics product such as the Xbox, TiVo or PS3. This Variety article discusses how the Xbox 360's new Internet-based video-on-demand service is having relative success (where others have failed) due to its available HD content and its direct connection to the TV.

The relative success of video downloads on Microsoft's Xbox Live and disappointment of Amazon.com's Unbox point to two factors that differentiate Xbox from Amazon and its many other competitors — consumers who download a movie want a simple way to watch it on their TV, and those with high-def TVs want high-def content.

A primary reason for its success lies also in the fact that DRM is not a relevant consideration for most users when the content is delivered directly to the display unit of choice. iVOD services to PCs have largely failed because most people do not want to watch TV and movies on their computers. And the DRM used by most of those services preclude users from copying the movie onto a DVD for playback where they want to watch them – in the living room. 

FYI: Joystiq has a pretty good preview of the system here including a YouTube demo. Note that the demo was done early-on. As I understand it the slow-downloads and other glitches experienced in the early days have been resolved.

Sources: Variety | Joystiq | XBox 360 Fanboy

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2006 – Best Games of the Year Awards

Categories: Featured Articles




Below are a few of the major game publications' "best of"/"most important" game roundups for 2006 (and their top title in parenthesis): 

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Forbes: Why Gears of War Costs $60

Categories: Character License CasesFeatured ArticlesPersonality Rights CasesStartup Game Developer IssuesTrademark Cases

Forbes provides this article and interactive pie chart explaining/breaking down the cost structure of modern video games such as the blockbuster Gears of War:

Read Forbes Article

View Interactive Pie Chart

Here’s a Summary of the Interactive Pie Chart:

  • 25%/$15 – Art Design
  • 20%/$12 – Programming and Engineering
  • 20%/$12 – Retailer’s Cut
  • 11.5%/$7 – Console Owner Fees (to Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony)
  • 7%/$4 – Marketing Costs
  • 5%/$3 – Marketing Development Fund (print circulars/banner ads, etc.)
  • 5%/$3 – Manufacturing Costs, Packaging
  • 5%/$3 – Licensing Fees (personality rights, character and story licenses, copyrights, trademarks, etc.)
  • 1.5%/$1 – Publisher Profit
  • 1.5%/$1 – Distributor Fees
  • 0.3%/20¢ – Corporate costs (management, overhead, legal fees Wink)
  • 0.05%/3¢ – Hardware Development Costs (Developer kits, demo units etc.)

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GameIndustry.biz: Introversion Software – The Evolution of Distribution

Categories: Digital DistributionDistribution Agmt CasesFeatured ArticlesNew Business ModelsStartup Game Developer Issues

GameIndustry.biz Article: "The Evolution of Distribution". This GameIndustry.biz feature article discusses Introversion Software's fierce independence and success with digital game distribution.  

Source: GameIndustry.biz

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Gamasutra Feature: Litigations that Changed Games Industry

Categories: Featured ArticlesPolicy Analysis

Gamasutra Feature: Litigations that Changed Games Industry by Gregory Boyd

Sources: Gamasutra

A related article is “My Three Trials” by Bill Kunkel where he describes his experiences as an expert witness in three historic video game trials. The Article is in three pieces:

  • Part 1 – Atari v. Magnavox
  • Part 2 – Nintendo v. Galoob
  • Part 3 – Capcom v. Data East

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Gamsutra Feature: Pros & Cons of Licensing

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsLicensed Game CasesStartup Game Developer Issues

Click here
to read this article on the pros and cons of developing games under license from others.

Source: Gamasutra

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Pointeless Waste of Time: Games Manifesto

Categories: Featured ArticlesHumourStartup Game Developer Issues

This is a terrific article that I had to pass on. It outlines many of the pet-peeves that us gamers have with game developers – the many cheats used by developers to save time, artificially expand game play etc. Gamers hate these things. Game developers should take a serious look at this list.

I most relate to:

  • Item 6 – Save Points: Since all consoles in this generation have hard drives, there is no excuse not to have user-selectable save points. I am an adult. If I found it fun and challenging to play an entire levels without saving, I could choose to do that. But I submit that the increasingly aging gamer demographic does not find it fun to play the same thing over and over due to deficient save point planning by game developers. The lack of decent autosave points or user selectable save-points is the primary reason I abandon otherwise good games.
  • Item 12, para 7 – Unnecessarily Difficult End Levels: I thoroughly enjoyed Gears of War and had EVERY intention of playing the entire game again on the harder level until I had to fight RAAM (the final boss) over and over and over. It took me hours to figure out what was necessary to kill this guy. The arbitrariness of this fight is silly in the extreme. The game gives you no indication as to what is required to kill him and how much effort, of which type, it will take to kill him. This final boss fight was so off-putting that I no longer intend to play the game through on the harder level because the last thing I want is to finish the game and find I can’t kill the final boss on the harder level. Cliffy! Watch the end of Halo 1 for an example of a perfect ending level! Back to EB goes Gears for trade-in!

I would also add:

  • Escort Missions Should be Outlawed: If the character being escorted would actually accept orders from the player to hide somewhere, stay behind until beckoned, shoot at the enemy etc. it wouldn’t be so bad. But too many games require the gamer to escort a hapless character that will not take direction and repeatedly gets himself/herself killed for no fault of the gamer.

I can’t complain about the “Short-sighted Business Bull***” mentioned in item 15. If this were solved there would be almost no raison d’etre for this blog. :) And, as for me, wooden crates really don’t bother me all that much!

Warning!: The author uses both humorous and explicit language in this manifesto.

Source: PointlessWasteofTime

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Sniffing Out the Royalties

Categories: Featured ArticlesRoyalty DisputesStartup Game Developer Issues

Media Forensics offers to examine independent developers’ distribution contracts and sniff out unpaid or underpaid royalties.

Sources: Next Generation

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Article: Are Virtual-reality Games the New Wild West?

Categories: Featured ArticlesVirtual Crime CasesVirtual Property CasesVirtual Property Taxation

Dan Bradbury writes an interesting piece in Backbone Magazine about the virtual goings on in MMORPGs and some of the legal implications. Among other things he discusses Mark Bragg's virtual property case and a virtual "mafia" of sorts in Second Life where users take it upon themselves to enforce the rules within the virtual world when no other recourse is available.

Source: Backbone Magazine

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GameDaily.biz Feature: Do Mandatory Console Game Bundles Violate Anti-trust Laws?

Categories: Antitrust/Competition CasesConsumer Protection CasesFeatured Articles

A phenomena of the recent three console launches (Xbox 360, PSP, DS, PS3 and Wii) is the mandatory bundling foisted on gamers by retailers looking to cash in on the extremely high demand for these consoles on launch.

GameDaily.biz has a feature article Predatory Packaging: Are You Being Illegally Forced into Buying a Mega Console Bundle? on this topic is worth a read.

According to Bob Freitas, a technology and antitrust litigator and partner in Orrick’s Silicon Valley office, it’s possible that these bundles could violate certain anti-trust laws, but it’s not highly likely he explained.

Source: GameDaily.biz

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FYI: How to Break in as a Game Programmer

Categories: Featured ArticlesStartup Game Developer Issues

The title speaks for itself. Click on the links to read parts 1 and 2 of this Gamasutra feature.
- Part 1 (November 3, 2006)
- Part 2 (November 9, 2006)

Source: Gamasutra

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Hot Coffee’s Effects on the Mod Scene

Categories: Featured ArticlesGame RatingsModding CasesSexuality Cases

This Gamasutra feature article is a very interesting article on the Effects of ‘Hot Coffee’ on the game modding scene. Mods can inprove and extend the life of video games but since Hot Coffee, there is a keen awareness of the liability that game modding can expose developers and publishers to.

Sources: Gamasutra

‘Hot Coffee’ Related Posts:

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What’s Wrong With the Games Industry

Categories: Featured Articles

This is an interesting Gamasutra featured article on the problems facing the games development industry. It presents common pitfalls and problems to avoid.

Source: Gamasutra Feature Article

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Tom Buscaglia: The Game Attorney Interview

Categories: Featured ArticlesStartup Game Developer Issues

In December of 2005 GameCloud interviewed Florida game attorney Tom Buscaglia on a number of game law related topics. I thought the interview was interesting. In particular his answers to questions 3, 4 and 5 about common business and IP problems that game developers run into in the early stages of a game development studio. New game developers often fail to properly secure the intellectual property rights needed/used in a game. They also often fail to deal with the issues needed to sustain a viable business. Creating a great game alone is not sufficient to create a sustainable game development studio.

Source: GameAttorney.com

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How the PEGI and BBFC Rating Systems Work

Categories: Featured ArticlesGame Ratings

In this Gamasutra article, members from the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) and the BBFC (British Board of Film classification) game rating systems work.

Source: Gamasutra

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Game Law: Contracts 101

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsStartup Game Developer Issues

Attorney Tom Buscaglia explains the reason why game development contracts are so complex.

Source: GamaSutra Feature

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The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games

Categories: Featured ArticlesStartup Game Developer Issues

GAMASUTRA FEATURE: “The marketing plan is your flightplan on how to get your game to your players. The contents of a marketing plan can be divided into several sections. A strategic plan or the company’s business plan will describe the company’s strategic objectives. The marketing plan will focus on those major objectives, and how to reach those goals.”

Source: Gamasutra

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How to Get Your Video Game Published – GameDaily.biz Feature

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsPublisher/Developer CasesStartup Game Developer Issues

This GameDaily.biz feature presents Careen Yapp’s (VP of Licensing and Business Development for D3 Publisher) thoughts on how publishers make their decisions to take on a developer and what developers should understand when preparing a presentation to a publisher.


Dale’s Comment: Gamasutra also included a recent “Feature” entitled “Pitching Your Game to a Publisher”. While less informative, it is amusing!

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Regulating Youth Access to Violent Video Games: Three Responses to First Amendment Concerns

Categories: Featured ArticlesPolicy AnalysisViolent Game Law CasesViolent Game Laws

(first published October 2, 2003)
Text of Paper
Abstract: Recent efforts to limit the access of children to violent video games have faced legal challenge under the First Amendment. This article presents three theories that may provide defenses to constitutional challenges. The evidence of harmful effects is examined to argue that limitations may meet strict scrutiny. The theory that violence may fit within harmful to minors statutes ordinarily directed at pornography is also presented. Lastly, the argument that video game play is not expression protected by the amendment is explored.”.
Source: by Kevin W. Saunders

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The Problem with PC Game Piracy Protection (Next Generation Feature)

Categories: DRMFeatured ArticlesPiracy Cases

PC Gamer looks at anti-piracy solutions and how their potency has created problems for legitimate game buyers.

Source: Next Generation
Related Stories: Joystiq | ars technica

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Non-Disclosures & Non-Competes: To Sign Or Not To Sign?

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsNon-Compete CasesStartup Game Developer IssuesTrade Secret Cases

Gamasutra Feature: Marc Mencher advises video-game industry job seekers to carefully consider and read before signing an NDA or non-compete agreement upon taking that new job.

Source: Gamasutra

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The Good News About Digital Distribution

Categories: Digital DistributionDistribution Agmt CasesFeatured ArticlesNew Business Models

Attorney Tom Buscaglia discusses some of the advantages of digital distribution for today’s video game developer – including higher profits, retention of IP rights and new funding models.

Source: GamaSutra Feature

Related Stories: GameIndustry.biz | CNet | Joystiq | 1Up.com

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Xbox Live Business Model Must Change, Before MMOs can Head to Consoles

Categories: Featured ArticlesNew Business Models

Guild Wars developer Jeff Strain has said that the business model used by Microsoft’s Xbox Live service needs to be overhauled before the service will be attractive to MMOG developers.

Source: GameIndustry.biz

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